Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mom the Rum Runner


The Smuggler - and her get-away vehicle

Mom was a teetotaler.
I thought I should mention that or what follows won’t make any sense.
Dad had surprised Mom with the trip of a lifetime.
Okay, in the 60’s it was the trip of a lifetime.
Driving down along the scenic 101 through Washington, Oregon, California and into Mexico.
They were going to be gone for weeks.
She was just a bit excited.
They set out.
Visiting every landmark, great and small.
Every roadside exhibit.
Every tree, post and rock along the entire route.
Dad loved to see . . . things.
When they had finally finished with SeaWorld, time was growing short.
They had one day to make a hop into Mexico.
Tijuana was all they would have time for.
They set out.
Crossed the border into Mexico.
And had a day of shopping the family-run stalls and businesses on the streets of Old Mexico.
Mom was in her element.
The sheer amount of purchasable ‘stuff’ was mind numbing.
She set to work with a will.
Picking up such treasures as: Velvet paintings.
Items of leather work.
Jewellery.
And some lovely bottles, encased in clever, hand-woven reed containers.
Happily, she piled her purchases into the back seat of the car and the two of them set off on the long road back to Canada.
Crossing the border from Mexico to the US was a simple matter of declaring that, yes, they had done some shopping and spent ‘X’ amount of dollars/pesos, and no, they weren’t transporting any firearms, tobacco or alcohol.
They continued on.
Back through California, Oregon and Washington.
Seeing whatever sites Dad had missed on their first pass.
There weren’t many.
Finally, they reached the border, again declaring how much they had spent and that they weren’t carrying any firearms, tobacco or alcohol.
The last few miles to the ranch were covered quickly.
Mom had children to see.
And gifts to bestow.
Their homecoming was noisy and enthusiastic.
Mom handed out her purchases.
Brought all the way from Mexico.
Across two borders.
She had purchased one thing for herself.
The three little bottles in their fancy, hand-woven cases.
She arranged them proudly on the mantle above the fireplace.
One larger.
Two smaller.
Perfect.
For many months, they sat there, unopened.
In their place of honor.
Then one of my brothers happened to pick one up as he was dusting.
It was full of liquid.
“Mom! What’s in this bottle?”
“Liquid.”
“What kind of liquid?”
“Well . . . just water, I suppose.”
“Huh.” He twisted off the cap.
Let’s just say that, if it was water, the water in Mexico is vastly different than anything that flows in Canada.
“Mom. I hate to tell you this, but this isn’t water!”
Mom appeared. “It isn’t?”
“Umm . . . no.”
“Well what is it then?”
“I think you have three bottles of tequila here.”
Okay, remember the part where I mentioned ‘teetotaler’?
That would apply here.
 “What’s tequila?”
 “It’s a very strong alcoholic drink. From Mexico. With a worm in the bottom.”
“Oh.”
The ‘liquid’ was duly poured out, worm and all, and good old 100 proof ranch sulphur water poured back in.
Mom went back to the kitchen and my brother went back to his dusting.
All was well.
But I can’t help but think about my teetotaling Mom bringing her three bottle of tequila across two borders.
It’s always the ones you don’t suspect . . .

15 comments:

  1. And she had such a sweet trustworthy face that not one of those guards stopped to check out her "purchases". And we wonder how terrorists get across the borders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh-oh, terrorists. Maybe we should have kept a closer eye on her . . .

      Delete
  2. I've done the 101 trip, just to see everything I could. No tequila, though. The borders were tougher in 1980. Lovely story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You notice this was 'disguised' tequila. Would that have made a difference?

      Delete
  3. Huh. Who knew decorative bottles were actually good for something?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Diane, your family's stories always, always make me chuckle! What a tribe you have there! And your line of, "It's always the ones you don't suspect," made me laugh out loud. I'm glad she made it safely across both borders, tequila and all! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. My Mom. Good old Tequila Sheila!

      Delete
  5. :-)

    Reminds me of my husband's complaining about the dozen or so rocks I picked up in Montana, good-sized rocks, swearing that taking them was illegal. I laughed at him, pretty much filled up the backseat...

    Come to find out it IS illegal to take rocks from the Rockies!

    Who'd a thunk?!

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, of course. There is the distinct possibility that they could run out . . . And what would the Rockies be without rocks? Ies?

      Delete
  6. Utterly hilarious, you really made me laugh :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Launna! My Mom always made us laugh, too!

      Delete
  7. moms make us smile all the time, don't they? This could pass off as a post-Mother's Day anecdote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mother's Day?! Never thought of that . . .
      Rats. It would have been so fun, too!

      Delete
  8. Great story, it happens to the best of travelers:) I was once stopped in an airport by a dog sniffing for meat and produce. I denied it (because I really didn't think I had) only to unpack and find 6 grape leaves I had plucked from a vineyard tuck between wax paper that had once held french cheese in it. You tell stories so much better than I do:) thanks for linking up to the NOBH

    ReplyDelete

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